ONBOARD THE CELEBRITY BEYOND -- Celebrity Cruises' original plan was to name its second Edge Class ship the Beyond.
But according to CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, as the line mapped out the evolution of the five-ship class, it became clear that with a 65-foot stretch, 11,000 more gross registered tons and about 11% greater passenger capacity, the third ship would be the one that goes "beyond."
During a shakedown cruise from Southampton, England, last week, Lutoff-Perlo reflected on how fitting the name truly became, saying that the world was looking to move beyond a global pandemic and get back to travel.
The Celebrity Beyond, originally scheduled to launch last fall, made its debut on April 23 with more space, more suites and even more decks with the addition of the reimagined Deck 17 Retreat.
Celebrity emerged from the shutdown looking to further embrace what it calls its modern luxury essence and put an even stronger emphasis on wellness, now one of the pillars of Celebrity's mission. (Celebrity's well-being advisor is Gwyneth Paltrow, and her Goop products, including a featured detox smoothie, are sold onboard.)
There are many ways the Beyond inches over the Edge and pushes past the Apex, its predecessors in the class. While it fits 350 more passengers than those sister ships, the Beyond offers similar space per passenger, and with an outward-facing aesthetic -- tons of natural light and wide-open outdoor areas -- it feels even roomier. A noticeable expansion is the larger Grand Plaza, where the popular Martini Bar is.
Brian Abel, senior vice president of hotel operations, said that most bars and restaurants are centered across Decks 3, 4, and 5 to give the atrium the energy of a bustling European piazza. That is achieved with occasional "chandelier shows" featuring the Grand Plaza's LED centerpiece and bartenders who dance atop the bar, juggling and pouring a half-dozen martinis at once, blindfolded.
Notably, the Resort Deck on Deck 14 is 40% larger, claiming the longest lap pool at sea at 25 meters. One deck above, the Rooftop Garden is 20% larger than on the Edge or Apex. Two cantilevered pools, offering incredible views, can also be found on that deck. They're a first for the Edge Class.
First Call: Celebrity Beyond
Tucked behind the Rooftop Garden is the Sunset Bar, which is a staggering 180% bigger on the Beyond. Celebrity tapped designer Nate Berkus to reimagine the bar, which he's done to tremendous effect. "It's a place you can be yourself -- maybe a more chic, carefree version," Berkus said over Sunset Bar cocktails during our sailaway celebration.
The bar and adjacent outdoor lounge are inspired by Berkus' travels, with heavy Moroccan and Mediterranean influences. Bites like ras el hanout bamba and mini chicken shawarma pita pockets are sold for $8 apiece. Cocktails include a zero-proof Moroccan iced tea elevated with the addition of lemon, cinnamon syrup and ginger ale.
It's no secret that Celebrity is aiming for the luxury traveler, as evidenced by its renewed emphasis on its suites. There are 22 additional suites on the Beyond, 216 in all across the ship, with two new categories making their fleet debut. The two-deck Edge Villas feature private plunge pools and have direct access to the Retreat sun deck, and Aqua Sky suites take the wellness approach of the line's popular AquaClass cabins and combine it with access to suite areas and amenities like the Retreat.
The Retreat -- the lounge, bar and sun deck for suite guests -- now expands to Deck 17 with a private pool, padded loungers, clamshell beds and shaded areas.
Luminae, the suite restaurant, has been expanded and now features forward-facing views from Deck 16. Select dishes were developed by Daniel Boulud, Celebrity's global culinary ambassador chef.
Despite having more than 30 food and beverage venues on the Beyond, more than any ship in the fleet, Celebrity decided to add another new dining venue. It got Boulud, a James Beard Award winner, to create his first restaurant at sea, Le Voyage.
Set in an intimate space on Deck 4, behind a door and not open to the main deck, the 50-seat, fine dining venue is painted in shades of peach and gold with eye-catching white netting. The $75 three-course experience comes with a glass of Champagne. Le Voyage has more than 400 bottles of wine, and they must be high-end, given that the tasting menu with wine pairing costs $225 per person (it's $125 without the wine).